Demonstrations planned for today in Lilongwe have been cancelled after police on Tuesday informed civil society organisations (CSO’s) who were planning the protest march that it does not have the capacity to ensure security of protesters.
According to organisers of the demonstrations, the march was scheduled to start from Kamuzu Central Hospital roundabout to Parliament Building. The protest march was aimed at forcing government to make maize available in Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) depots nationwide.
In a press statement released yesterday, human rights activist Billy Mayaya who is also chairperson of National Rights to Food Network said they ‘are saddened’ the march has been cancelled.
He, however, said this will not deter the civil society in the country from exerting pressure on government to be accountable to suffering Malawians. He urged government to take a pro-active and decisive action to address the food situation by ensuring that there is enough food for all Malawians “because access to such food is a human right that must be respected without compromise.”
“As a recommendation, we propose that government affects reforms that will include ensuring that the institution is able to raise funds so that it is able to plan well in advance for the lean periods as well as eventualities such as the one at hand,” Mayaya’s statement reads in part.
He appealed to the Competition and Fair Trading Commission to intervene by keeping in check the unscrupulous traders who are taking advantage of the free market economy by selling maize at exorbitant prices.
About 20 percent of the country’s population (about 2.8 million people) are food insecure in 25 of the country’s 28 districts following the combined effect of floods and drought Malawi experienced in January 2015 reducing national maize production by a third.
National Police Spokesperson Nicholas Gondwa yesterday could neither confirm nor deny the allegation that police told organisers of the demonstrations that it does not have the capacity to ensure security of protesters.